左起：周格泰，李宗盛，李三水｜L to R: Chou Ko-Tai, Jonathan Lee, Li Sanshui
W has released a unique film to celebrate New Balance’s 110-year anniversary, starring the ‘Godfather of Mandarin Pop’ Jonathan Lee. Titled Every Step Counts, and directed by famous music video director Chou Ko-Tai, the film sees Lee deliver a 12-minute monologue recounting the story of his illustrious music career. The unusual film has received acclaim across social and advertising media for its beautiful craftsmanship and originality.
SHP+ spoke with W founder and creative director Li Sanshui to learn more.
“A commercial that looks nothing like a commercial”
From the outset, W, New Balance and Lee agreed to make “A commercial that looks nothing like a commercial”. Li explains that the film was shot like a documentary, “We want to show the spirit and the 110-year history of New Balance in a different way. Whether its ‘The True Color of Youth’ or this 110-year anniversary film, the only purpose is to let people once again fall in love with New Balance.”
New Balance 110周年原木盒内纪念品｜In inside New Balance 110 anniversary’s gift package
New Balance Japan last year held a 110-year anniversary celebration, using spectacular lasers, projections and LED displays to show the history of the running shoe company. Li says he was looking for a more-localised approach, “We wanted emphasize on the value and the barnd’s history, making a commercial that truly resonates with the Chinese people.”
摄制组在李宗盛工作室内进行拍摄｜The crew shooting in Jonathan Lee’s studio
“Just tell a good story.”
李宗盛在台北街头｜Jonathan Lee on the streets of Taipei
The project spanned just over a year, from client brief to final film. Protagonist and narrator Jonathan Lee was heavily involved in the creative process and copywriting, to tell the story of his 30-year music career. Li Sanshui explains, “The entire commercial is based on Jonathan Lee’s personal experiences. We had be careful about picking out those experiences that could connect Jonathan’s life to New Balance.”
While shooting, Li explains he frequently asked Lee what he wanted to achieve with the film, to which Lee replied, “Nothing. Why always think achieving anything? Just tell a good story.”
“Finding the path in darkness.”
Every Step Counts challenges the usual rules and routines of standard brand spokesperson advertising. Indeed, Li says W strives to find new methods of communicate brand messages, referring to his team as ‘creators’ rather than ‘creatives’ in the traditional advertising sense of the word. A recent example was the self-composed music album A Song to the Future they released last month and a music video A Song for Ma Yun, exploring the interplay between music and advertising.
李宗盛写给W｜Jonathan Lee to W: Be creative. Like a flash.
The company are learning by doing. Their next music project will reflect the education they received working with a music legend, but Li admits they face a unknown territory in their quest to challenge accepted advertising paradigms “we are still finding our path in darkness.”